The Jets veterans have returned to North Jersey this week for the start of the offseason strength and conditioning program. But don't read anything into center Connor McGovern not getting back to One Jets Drive until next week. He's at home in North Dakota for a lot of right reasons.
For one thing, he and his wife, Devin, were in town for the birth of their first child, a daughter, Dillon Lucy, who came into the world at 21 inches and eight pounds, 15 ounces. "Mom and baby are great," McGovern told Eric Allen on the latest episode of The Official Jets Podcast. "She was an ounce short of being a nine-pound baby. Happy and healthy big girl."
Then there is the matter of the McGoverns checking on their new house going up near his parents' home in Fargo, ND. "We did the classic millennial thing," he said, "and we're living with my parents right now while the house is getting built."
And the return home began with McGovern stepping into his role as the founder and face of the second annual Able Games fitness competition in Fargo.
"The Able Games is something that myself and Kim Pladson at TNT Fitness came up with," he said. "It's a platform for people of all abilities in a physical competition. Being an NFL player, competition's kind of my life, it's something I love and I find something to compete in every day. So I got involved with the special needs athletes through the Special Olympics in college.
"Kim was a family friend and she reached out to my mom and asked, hey, does Connor have any interest in working with TNT, being a spokesperson? She didn't even know I wanted to work with people with special needs. I said, yeah, I'd love to, and we brainstormed it. ... I use the word 'able' all the time about how able these athletes are. I think that's where we got the name from."
COVID forced the cancellation of the first Able Games in 2020, but McGovern was on hand for the '21 games and for this year's gathering of about 300 athletes — including some 90 with special needs — on April 9-10. The event opened with a "Play-60" event for young special-needs children. Then came a pep-rally-ish "celebrity faceoff" featuring McGovern, some NFL and CrossFit Gym friends and sponsors of the event.
The competition was held all day Saturday and Sunday, in five classes: Rx for the top tier of athletes, scaled and novice divisions, special needs adult and special needs child.
Like that house he's building, McGovern is proud of being a pivotal part in constructing the Able Games, seeing the program being adapted as a physical education curriculum in schools around North Dakota, and watching an offshoot, Able Vocations, get off the ground.
"We're trying to build that path," McGovern said. "The competition has really shown how able these people are and this demographic is. It's been amazing and incredibly fulfilling for my wife and me to be so involved in this and see the way its growing. Hopefully Able is in every state and PE class and Able Vocation's in every state to help the people with special needs and allow them to live that fulfilling life, through competing, through physical education and through a vocation."
On top of everything, when McGovern was preparing to catch a late Easter flight back to One Jets Drive early this week, a blizzard barreled through his neck of the North Dakota woods.
"We came home from the hospital on Saturday, then it was Easter Sunday, and a blizzard rolled through so there was no way I was getting out of here on Sunday, and Monday it was still pretty bad," he said. "So the coaches said, you know what? Enjoy being a dad for a week and we'll see you next Monday. The Jets were awesome about it."
Meanwhile, McGovern had some awesome observations about the start of his second year wearing the green and white. He'll talk about that shortly in another story on newyorkjets.com.